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on March 8, 2003
Do read this book. Even though it is a physics book, the author does not treat physics as a subject to be studied, pondered on, examined minutely- all of us carry the horror experiences from school and college classes. I picked this book after leafing through the foreword, where the author TonyRothman strikes an immediate chord with the reader. This is no ordinary physics book- the language is simple, the style humorous, the author very understanding and having a knack not to push things too hard.
The book is an overview of the subject of physics. It charters the birth and growth of physics , from the greek times to the post-einstein period. Unlike other general books, the author sticks to the subject without going off in tangent on irrelevant issues. So, the book is not hefty. It's around 200 pages of neat print.
The author tackles all the important theories of Physics in a fun and engaging manner. Newton's laws, Kepler's laws, Laws of thermodynamics, Electromagnetic laws, Einstein's theory of special relativity, atomic structure, Blackbody radition , photoelectric effect, Quantum mechanics, E=mc2; Wave theory, Light duality, Uncertainity principle, Einstein's general theory of relativity.
It's an amazing effort, since the book is addressed to the layman with little knowledge of physics.
I am no physics buff. I read this book by serendipity and could never put it down. I strongly recommend this book. My only regret is that i should have got this book during my school years. Giving this as a gift to the teens in the house would be a wonderful idea too.
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on July 19, 2001
Instant Physics: Years ago I was browsing through the science section of my favorite bookstore when I opened this book casually leafing around it's pages when I came across the first sentence which begins the Introduction, "If you are a potential victim of this book, leafing through its pages while obstructing traffic in the science isle of your favorite bookstore, there is a good chance you took a physics course in the vanished days of your youth". What a cowinkydink huh? He goes on, "Perhaps you now want a refresher or perhaps, feeling guilty at your ignorance of the central role played by science in modern society, you merely wish to become a more cultured individual. In any case your knowledge of physics is inexcusably weak and, if you have indeed been exposed to the subject before, you probably regard the word `physics' as synonymous with `plague,' as in `to be avoided like the'." OK, I'm hooked! I flipped back to the dedication which almost makes me cry out in joy, "To my students, known and unknown. The known, who demonstrate with crushing directness that it is impossible to be too clear. The unknown, who suffer in silence." I believe that he is addressing myself: I am an unknown student who silently yearns for information that would be presented clearly, accessibly; information that I can process into comprehension. I have yet to take a formal Physics course at a college or university (members only please). I love being surprised! (Don't you?) Dr. Rothman delivers this humble students unsolicited silent plea for attention grabbing/attention keeping material in this succinct & concise presentation of the salient principles of the physical sciences. His wit, humor and sensitivity for the readers comfort over the hurdles of a seemingly steep learning curve are woven into the fabric of each page keeping the audience stimulated and giving you a sense that he wants you to participate in the great gift of learning. In the beginning of the book lies his statement of goals, "...the goal of this book cannot be to give you a working knowledge of physics.... the more modest goal of Instant Physics is to give you an idea of why physicists believe what they believe and to train you to use this sacred knowledge in the war against the infidel." (continued in part two)
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on September 19, 2002
Part Two:
Here are a few features of the format:
1. Each chapter has an attention grabbing box titled `YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS' - the first one states, `Don't memorize, understand'.
2. Throughout each chapter, there are these beautifully succinct little indented notes. For example the, `GUIDING PRINCIPLE: To know physics is to do physics.' and `PRINCIPLE OF LITERARY OVERSIGHT: textbooks may be straightforward and succinct, but the path of science is crooked and tortuous.'
3. Key words are highlighted in bold text throughout the book to grab your attention along with slapstick or sit-com pronouncements like `THE YOUNG AND THE RADIOACTIVE' and `PHOTOEFFECT OPENS SUPERMARKET DOORS AND CONFIRMS THE QUANTUM HYPOTHESIS' just to give you an occasional chuckle
4. There is a `Who's Who' box in each chapter which humorously highlights the historical principle players in physics (This book is not just a history of the physics & the men & women who made it.)
5. There are a few photographs, some good diagrams to convey important visual illustrations and cute (ok mostly silly) little cartoons help break up the seriousness of the subject. This book never takes itself too seriously. A humble virtue that he deeply admires!
6. There are a series of `math lite' demonstrations interspersed throughout the text appropriately labeled, `DEMO' which the author assures you will only require high-school algebra (he says that, "We use nothing more than addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division--promise! (well, maybe the occasional taking of a square root...))" This scared IndiAndy a little because he's borderline incompetent in some of the intermediate algebra mathematics. Nevertheless, he need not worried, the demos are not required to get the concepts. He subsequently went over some of the demos when he read the book a second time and they were, as promised, relatively `lite'.
7. There are a few of these amusing `COCKTAIL PARTY CONVERSATIONS' which consist of a funny but pointed dialog between You and a Physicist.
8. At the end of each chapter is yet another cool box titled, `ESOTERIC TERMS' and a summary of the key words, definitions, and key concepts you should glean form the generous text.
Here is the Table of Contents:
INTRODUCTION (LESSONS FROM PHYSICS), PROLOGUE (SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANSESTORS: It's All Greek to Me), CHAPTER 1 (TOWARDS A CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: Putting the Earth in Its Place), CHAPTER 2 (THE ELUSIVE ATOM: I've Got Gas), CHAPTER 3 (THE ENERGY CRISIS: Scientists in Heat), CHAPTER 4 (ELECTROMAGNATISM: A Current Affair), CHAPTER 5 (SPECIAL RELATIVITY: Einstein Sees the Light), CHAPTER 6 (INSIDE THE NUCLEUS: Curies and Curiouser), CHAPTER7 (QUANTUM MECHANICS: Physics Walks the Planck), CHAPTER 8 (DIVERSITY AND UNITY: Stirring the Particle Soup), CHAPTER 9 (GENERAL RELATIVITY AND COSMOLOGY: Gravity's Big Draw), CHAPTER 10 (THE END).
This review cannot do the book justice, but if you think that you might like what you see and you are a little bit like IndiAndy (scary thought!) just pick up a copy, read the introduction, and then decide if you can avoid being hooked! You may not enjoy this if we do not share the same sense of edutainment. IndiAndy's capable of suspending stuffy & cynical contempt for a humorous treatment of such a serious subject such that he can maximize his enjoyment while he learns. If you too can pull this off then he's confident you'll grow to love this little gem! Don't just take his word for it. Read the other reviews of the book as well to figure out for yourself if you might like it.
This was the first science book he could recall exposing himself to willingly. Ever since he has come across this book, he's begun boldly exploring the uncharted seas of his ignorance in the physical sciences with a curious sense of adventure... Thank you Tony!
Please take a moment to investigate IndiAndy's Amazon `about IndiAndy page by clicking the `IndiAndy (see more about IndiAndy)' link above. Look around for more friendly books geared towards the mere mortal by looking for his `Friendly Physics' Listmania List.
Drop him a line and tell him what you think.
Thanks! Friends of IndiAndy
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on July 11, 1999
"It is obvious to see that..." are the six little words that often result in slackened-jaw syndrome in first-year engineering students: gone is the calculator physics of high school, to be replaced by the proof-oriented exams of college. Rothman's math is moderate, his presentation light, but the understanding goes deep. A lecture hall filled with unperplexed students might not unnerve a PhD, but wouldn't it be fun to try?
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on August 23, 1998
From Aristotle to Einstein, this book explains the science of Physics better than all the rest. With the knowlegde of simple algebra you can more than "get it," but you can understand it. If you are interested in physics, but can never understand all of the many equations and math involved, this is the book you've been looking for!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 24, 2010
This is a nice overview of physics; covering: mechanics, the idea of atoms, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, relativity, nuclear and particle physics, quantum mechanics and cosmology. Some of the interesting history concerning the physicists that are mentioned is also provided. There are also inserts that summarize the terminology that is used, and some illustrative demonstration problems. (These demonstration problems illustrate some feature of the text and are not solved homework type problems. Indeed, this book does not present a full discussion of topics that are covered and in my opinion does not even present the material in a format suitable for homework problems.) The book uses some simple algebra, but no calculus or any other higher mathematics. The style is breezy and conversational, but some will find the puns and lame jokes somewhat annoying - I did.

This book would be a good choice for a student who wants an overview to supplement their text. This is certainly so for a high school student, but college undergraduates might also find this book to be of some interest. It is also a good choice for someone who has never taken physics and wants to know what the basic concepts are. It is also a good refresher for someone who studied the subject many years ago. However, this is not a textbook or a complete presentation of the subjects that are covered, nor could it be considering that the book is pocket size and only 242 pages long. I liked the book and feel that it accomplished what it set out to do - to provide an "instant" overview of physics, without scarring off the reader.
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on June 2, 2012
The book is is pretty complete - while it doesn't cover every topic of physics that is out there under the sun (no pun intended), it does more or less provide a chapter each dedicated to the most significant topics. And within each topic, it goes into detail on what lead to discoveries to be made, and by doing that makes these great minds seem more human and the concepts approachable. If you're new to physics you'll finish the book with a much, much better grasp of the subject, despite the book being a reasonably quick read. Also along the way, a lot of humor is injected to keep the reader entertained. The last thing I'd say about the book is unlike many books on physics where the equations put you off almost immediately after the introduction, or those where they keep the math out of the book entirely and teach the subject as if it were a softer science or philosophy, this book gives you the equations behind some of the ideas and somewhat spoon feeds you the ways they've been applied to learn more about our universe. The math isn't terribly difficult to follow if you can remember most of the stuff they teach you in high school or college.
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on July 23, 1997
Tony Rothman presents a unique style of explaining complex laws and theories using humor, intuitive imagery, and down-to earth illustrations. Find out what Special and General relativity actually state, what Quantum Electrodynamics is, and how Einstein got E=mc^2. Rothman's explanations are simple and often hilarious. All you need is some high-school algebra and you'll be on your way to Enlightenment
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on January 1, 1998
This is by far the best single volume book on physics that I have ever read. Not only does is provide an excellent overview of this often confusing science, it is (amazingly) funny and entertaining. This is a must read.
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on May 29, 2014
I first bought this book out of curiosity, and when I read it, it was extremely engaging, and very well organized to give people an introduction into physics. Highly recommended.
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